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2016 High Ground Austin Allies Meeting


December 8, 2016

In preparation of the 85th Texas Legislative Session, starting January 10, 2017, The High Ground of Texas, the largest regional Economic Development marketing group in the United States, met in Austin for its annual "Austin Allies" meetings. Each year, members from the group, meet with state agencies that are involved in Economic Development, to network and learn about the programs offered by those agencies. They also meet with the staff of the Senators and Representatives covering the High Ground Region. The High Ground covers 67 counties in the panhandle and down south to MonahaHigh Ground Membersns, Midland and Abilene. It covers 71,000 square miles and is larger than many states in the US.  Levelland representatives attending included Assistant City Manager, Erik Rejino and President of the Levelland Economic Development Corporation, John Clary.

The High Ground also hosts a luncheon at the Capitol for the agencies and the staffs of our elected officials. The "3" keynote speakers at the luncheon were Heather Page, Texas Film Commission Director, Carlton Schwab, CEO of the Texas Economic Development Council, and Robert Wood, Director of Economic Development & Analysis at the Texas Comptroller Office.

The group met on Wednesday afternoon with several managers from the Office of the Governor Economic Development and Tourism department. Thursday morning they met with the Texas Department of Agriculture and Commissioner Sid Miller was able to join us for a brief update.

Dan Hunter and Rick Rhodes provided much of the presentation from the Texas Department of Agriculture.  Dan Hunter serves TDA as Assistant Commissioner for Trade & Business Development at the Texas Department of Agriculture. The division he oversees is responsible for administering the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, State Office of Rural Health and Community Outreach. The goals include assisting communities and business owners with community development projects, economic development opportunities, sustainability of rural health facilities and services and pursuit of new national and international markets for Texas-made products. Approximately $150 million annually is utilized through TB&D programs. Dan is native of the west Texas town of Roscoe.

Rick Rhodes serves TDA as Administrator for the Office of Rural Affairs. His team administers programs within the Trade & Business Development Division. Rick is a native of Sweetwater and is a former Mayor of Sweetwater.